Diabetes Discovery Could Aid Treatment

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A new discovery in diabetes treatment may help patients with type 2 diabetes. In the July 17, 2003, issue of Science, researchers reported that they have discovered a family of molecules that acts on a key gene involved in blood sugar control. The molecules increase the activity of the gene that produces glucokinase, which is "the most important member of a family of kinases that maintain normal glucose levels in the body," said Joseph P. Grippo, PhD, director of metabolic diseases at Hoffmann-La Roche Inc and lead author of the study.

Glucokinase acts in 2 ways to keep blood sugar under control. It is activated when blood sugar levels go above normal after eating, increasing insulin secretion from the pancrease and stimulating the process of glucose metabolism in the liver. It is deactivated just as quickly, when blood glucose levels drop to normal, according to Dr. Grippo. "Thus we could control two very important points in the process of blood sugar control," he said.